JACKSONVILLE – Merry Krimma Day.
Let's get to it … Doug from Jacksonville:
I am hearing people grumble about the players getting Christmas off. Christmas!! Not an extra day off even – just moving the schedule around so the players don't have to go INTO WORK on Christmas. I finally get it: fans don't realize the players are human. This isn't Madden; they aren't soulless robots or gladiators they are human beings. CEOs make millions, too, and they get Christmas off ... and Sundays off, so that argument doesn't hold water, either. Sad.
John: Nah, it's not sad. People are going complain and not understand things. That's OK, though; fans gonna fan … even 'bout Krimma.
Logan from Big Bear, CA:
What are some things about the Jaguars' season you are saying in Week 17 you didn't think you would be saying at the beginning of the season?
John: Not a whole lot, really. If I think back to training camp, I suppose didn't expect I'd be saying by season's end that Denard Robinson could be a significant part of the Jaguars' running game, and I sure didn't expect Allen Hurns to make the impact he has made. I also must say I didn't expect the defensive line to be quite this good, though I expected the group would be improved over last season. Overall, this season has played out a lot as I expected. I thought this very easily could be a much tougher season than many observers anticipated, though the influx of rookies on offense made it even tougher there than I expected. I also thought the biggest improvement in this building process would take place in Year 3, so there's a storyline for the offseason, huh?
Dane from Jacksonville:
Are there different skill sets required to play nickel corner versus outside corner? For example, are there guys who excel at nickelback but simply don't have what it takes to play outside? Or vice-versa?
John: Nickel corners often are more physical players who can excel inside and who sometimes are bigger and a bit stronger than pure outside "cover corners." They also are often not quite as skilled as the starting corners, which makes sense because they're not starting over those players. They're usually cornerbacks, but a safety who is good in coverage can sometimes play nickel, so again … a nickel is sometimes a bit more physical, but it's not an absolute.
Donny from Section 132 and Lake Mary, FL:
You could make the case that Jordan Todman is one of the Top 10 players on the Jags, and not just because of his excellent touchdown run Thursday. His kickoff returns average in the Top 10 in the NFL and No. 30 is almost always around the ball carrier on kick and punt coverage … he's a playmaking good football player. Is he on the team next year, John?
John: If Jordan Todman continues to play special teams at the level he has played them this year, he's the sort of guy for whom you find a role.
Bill from Hammock, FL:
The season is winding down and I can't help but pass along my thoughts. I've missed one Jags game in 20 years and really feel we are on the right road back to respectability. This is an improving team and the offseason is going to be exciting. I believe the dedicated fan base deserves this and it will be appreciated so much due to the difficulties we have faced the last several years. Thanks for guiding us thru the land mines and keeping us focused on the many positives. Go Jags!
Steve from Eastern Mongolia:
How important is this last game for Toby Gerhart? It appears his nagging injury has at last healed and he's now running with the power and punch we all hoped for early on. Especially between the tackles, who seem to be blocking better. Is it fair to say that his performance last Thursday and next Sunday are somewhat critical to his body of work and how the team evaluates him (and their needs at the running back spot in free agency and the draft) for the future?
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
Hey, Zone … can we hang out this offseason?
John from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jags will trade Shorts for a draft pick or another player?
John: No. Cecil Shorts III is an unrestricted free agent following the season, so no team would trade for him. I expect the Jaguars to allow Shorts to test the market and I expect him to sign elsewhere. I also expect him to fare well wherever he goes and I expect to answer emails from outraged fans following a prime-time game in which he catches a touchdown pass. I expect those same fans to not remember they thought Shorts should be traded, and to also forget that the Jaguars have a lot of up-and-coming receivers that makes not retaining Shorts a logical thing.
Scott from Atlantic Beach, FL:
Harris drafted Leftwich, then passed on Rodgers … Smith drafted Gabbert, then passed on Wilson. It seems as if there is something to be learned from history, but you sound like Caldwell will do the same and bet his general manager career in Jacksonville on Bortles. I'm tired of not having a quarterback. Bortles may or may not pan out. Please stop the madness and let the Jaguars have a legitimate contingency plan at the quarterback position. I can't stand the thought of not competing until 2019 because Bortles can't learn to throw a screen pass.
John: I know the history, and I know the Jaguars were one of many teams to pass on Rodgers and Wilson. I'm pretty sure MOST people reading this know the history all too well. Here's the thing: You sound like Caldwell's going to have the opportunity to take Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. If those two quarterbacks go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, the Jaguars won't have a chance to take either anyway. They can't pick earlier than No. 3 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Also, while I get the theory of fans that teams should take a quarterback until they find one, there's some logic missing there. Almost all quarterbacks need time to develop. That's true of Bortles. That said, do you give him 14 games and draft another quarterback to impede that time to develop? I suppose you could, but if you do, do you start the same cycle with the next guy? It seems like that could be an issue.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
Zone, wanna change your Super Bowl pick yet?
David from Jacksonville:
Is it me, or does a 3-12 team chanting "We Believe in Victory" seen a little nonsensical? I mean, sure, you can believe in victory all you want but you have only won 20 percent of your games.
John: It is nonsensical if you don't realize that when Gus Bradley talks about "Victory," he's talking about something other than winning games. When he talks about Victory, he's talking about his philosophy of each player striving to be his best every day and reaching for a higher goal than simply winning – and he's talking about how if all players do that the team will improve and winning will take care of itself. When the team chants about that, players are basically chanting that they believe fully in Bradley and his philosophy and his approach. So, no, to the players and coaches it's not nonsensical in the least.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
"Peace on earth, good will toward men."
John from Jacksonville:
Do you know if there is ever discussion on spicing up the game a little during the last two minutes of each half? By this, I mean it becomes a very boring ending when a game's last couple of minutes consists of a team running down the clock. Can't the play clock be set to only 20 seconds during this time or the game clock stop until the play clock gets to 20 seconds prior to each remaining play? It would at least make things more interesting and perhaps keep the fans in the stadium longer. It might also even help out the big-money advertisers on television to have people not turn the television off as quickly.
John: I haven't heard of discussion on this, though that scenario is far from being out of the realm of possibility. I could see a time when the league decided to shorten the play clock in the last two minutes. I hope that doesn't happen. Teams work to get the lead and to get into a situation where their opponents are out of timeouts. The football purist in me likes the idea of a team being rewarded for that work, though the football purist in me – like a lot of other things in me – often doesn't get what he wants.
Strbker from Dothan, AL:
You sly dog. #Whitneysighting Merry Christmas O-Zonians!
John: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Shane from Atlanta, GA:
John: No doubt.